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Southam United have freedom to take off the handbrake, says boss Richard Kay

SOUTHAM United’s Hellenic League match against Calne Town was called off by the referee 15 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time, with parts of the Bobby Hancocks Park pitch deemed not to have thawed out enough to allow the fixture to go ahead, writes David Hucker.

Southam United boss Richard Kay. (61253230)
Southam United boss Richard Kay. (61253230)

With every Division One match called off on the day, it was a disappointing outcome for the club, but manager Richard Kay could still look back on the previous seven days with some satisfaction, as Southam’s midweek win at Newent Town was their third in a row and took them into the top half of the table for the first time this season.

Kay, pictured, had been able to announce an unchanged line-up for the visit to Wildsmith Meadow and, on a bitter, wintry evening, captain Simon Barby snatched an 89th-minute winner to grab all three points after Frank Pemberton had converted a low cross from the left to give the home side an early lead.

Ethan Champkins found himself unmarked in front of goal to level for Saints on 15 minutes, but they fell behind again when a shot from Jordan Cooper appeared to have been blocked on the line, but a goal was awarded and it remained 2-1 at the break.

Josh Dixon brought Saints level, following up after a great save by home ‘keeper Kyran Edwards to beat out a Barby shot and, after Lewis Hudson had denied Newent’s Zaqib Hussain a goal opportunity, Barby was on hand to secure the win.

Despite the conditions, this was a match played at a high tempo that could have gone either way, with plenty to keep the 40 hardy souls who turned out entertained. It typified Southam’s never-say-die attitude that had seen them win deep in added time on their last visit to Gloucestershire when, ten days earlier, they had overcome Stonehouse Town 2-1.

It was a far cry from the opening few weeks of the season which saw Southam earn just one point from their first five matches, scoring only three goals.

It was looking like their first season back at step six of the non-league pyramid would prove a difficult one after gaining promotion from the Oxfordshire Senior League, where they had finished runners-up to Bicester Hallions, but, gradually, they found their feet.

A 6-3 August Bank Holiday win over Moreton Rangers, to whom they trailed 3-1 early in the second half, set the ball rolling and this was followed by a 3-1 win at Kidlington Reserves to instil confidence in the side.

The match at Newent marked the halfway point in the season and, as well as the league programme, Southam have come through two rounds of the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup and face Chinnor in the next round on Tuesday, 10th January.

“This was our first promotion since the 1988-89 season and brought us full circle back to step six,” said Kay.

“Our target after promotion was to consolidate our place in the league and, with the number of points now on the board, we have the freedom to take the handbrake off and see just where the season can take us.

“The character and belief in the group, who are giving everything for the club, is unwavering and we were relentless at Newent to come from behind and win”

On Saturday, Southam are at Cheltenham Saracens, the first of three away matches that complete the month’s fixtures.

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